“Its about body positivity. Ivory and I made sure the event was arranged with women of all sizes and all colours to show the diversity — to give the message all women are beautiful, no matter what size or shape they are. Whether they’re plus size, not plus size, they’re thin or they’re bigger, or in between, or big thighs, or big bellies, big bumps, little bumps, they’re beautiful.
They’re all sizes. And they all rock it!!” ~ Jennifer McCready
I’ve been drawn to sit with Jennifer McCready of Lady Luck Pin Ups and Boudoir for some time now. We have chatted on Facebook, even made a tentative date of adventure to explore Erie Beach, just a few minutes away from us. Even stranger, we work right across the street from each other! The connection was not meant to transpire until this summer at Ridgefest.
Divine timing, when respected and followed, can spin life quite magically given the chance.
And all roads led to Wednesday, September 6, sitting in her second-floor studio across from my workspace on Ridge Rd, downtown Ridgeway. Both having worked and not eaten all day, we first enjoyed our dinners just ordered next door at The Kitchen. We both knew we only had about 45 minutes for this interview, but self-care same first.
We ate, we laughed, we quickly exchanged our little, fun, side stories and then we surprised ourselves, really; getting down and focused, and conducted an adult interview. I recorded it in audio so we could just let it flow. I had my guiding questions ready but they really werent needed much. Jen knew exactly how to express herself and I got exactly what I expected to get from her — raw honesty, positivity and pure passion, with a twist of weird …..my kinda girl!
First, Id like to properly introduce Jen McCready as the woman who is bringing burlesque to Ridgeway yes, lets get that right out of the way. And as I told Jen, You hold your head up high for this because your intentions and motivations are so noteworthy and inspiring!
Before getting into the “nitty gritty”, as they say, of the story, let me share with you how Jen described this event coming to our village — burlesque.
I first asked her to compare it to a strip joint. “What’s the difference?”
“A strip joint is trying to turn the audience on. The burlesque is a show. It’s entertainment. That’s what it is. Its a show. Its tasteful. That’s what I want to get out there, is that its a tasteful thing. That’s key. Some people think burlesque is strip, which is fine; it really is, because they’re taking their clothes off. But its in a very sensual, tactful way. Its not a dirty feeling. Its theatrical and choreographed.
“This is a big thing. Its a beautiful way to celebrate a womans body. In a positive way. Its very empowering, Shaking her head and laughing, she added, It is unreal, and it just makes you scream, holler and hoot.
“And a big thing I want to get across too is, you can come if you’re a woman or a man. Its for both. Its for women to celebrate how beautiful these women are, or if they like women. Its also for men who want to see beautiful women take their clothes off but also enjoy — the show. Ya know, its not just, I’m gonna go on stage and dance, its extremely entertaining. Again, a little laugh, They are not going to be able to take their eyes off the stage.”
“Do the have costumes?”
“Oh yes! They spend so much time on their costumes. Unbelievable amounts of time. Each girl, I think, is doing two skits. So, its like a whole play.”
“How far do they go?”
“They have to have pasties on their nipples. They keep their underwear on. Its all about teasing. Tease is a big thing in burlesque.”
She gave no further details about the show itself, but added, The ladies will be onstage for the first part of the night, then they go and we all can get up and dance the night away. There’ll be a bar on the main floor of the Sanctuary and Brimstone below.
From the Beginning: “How did you come across the idea?”
“I first met Ivory when she came to my studio for what I would consider the most unique shoot I’ve done here, at the studio. She dragged 400 bananas up those stairs for a photo shoot with her surrounded by all these bananas. She wanted to give the message, ‘Body shaming is bananas‘,and then donated all the bananas in Toronto. She danced for me here at the studio that day and then I went out and actually saw her.
“The reason I wanted to bring this to Ridgeway is because I went to Port Dover and watched Ivory and the girls perform there, and seeing them in a small town, and the reaction….was insane! I thought, Ridgeway needs to see this.
“It all came together. ‘Ivory, I want to have a burlesque show in Ridgeway and I want it to represent what Lady Luck represents.’
“She (Ivory) knew about my business and she said, ‘I’m gonna pick these 5 women according to what would represent Lady Luck’. I trusted her to know what to do. And she is professional. She is top notch at what she does. And her whole message, if you went on her Instagram account, you’ll see nothing but body positivity. She’s been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.”
Not Just Your Average Burlesque Show! “What is your message?”
I knew I wanted to write this piece about Jen McCready and her mission to bring burlesque to Ridgeway when she first began sharing with me, the details about this show and her intentions and message behind the plan. I asked Jen to share with me again, for this interview, what her message to Ridgeway and to the world was.
“Body positivity! Ivory and I made sure the event was arranged with women of all sizes and all colours to show the diversity; to give the message all women are beautiful, no matter what size or shape they are. Whether they’re plus size, not plus size, they’re thin or they’re bigger, or in between, or big thighs, or big bellies, or big boobs, or no big boobs, or big butt, they are all beautiful. This burlesque show is coming to celebrate all kinds of women and to show that all women are beautiful!”
“They have jiggly parts…. and they rock it!”
“I have some clients who come in here and you’d look at them and think, oh ya, they could be dancers. And you know, I’ve had women come in here that I would never have guessed they’d want to do burlesque, but they want to do it, because of the fact that burlesque is very celebratory. THEY have jiggly parts. Big thighs. Little thighs. Big bumps. Little bumps. Big boobs. Little boobs. They’re all sizes…. And they all rock it!!”
She gave me goosebumps with the energy she put behind that last statement. They have jiggly parts and they rock it! I loved it! So much power behind her intentions!
Every great woman has a great team. “Who is helping you this with event?”
“Everyone involved is volunteering their time, energy and talent. I am so very grateful.”
The show is being put on by ~
Lady Luck Pin Ups and Boudoir – Website: http://www.lady-luck-pinups.com
On Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=380055728680125&ref=content_filter
When I asked Jen to say anything she wanted about her studio and her work, the first thing that came to her, she did not hesitate, “I’m infatuated with my business, and I can’t live without it, and I’d die without it. Ya, I’m a big sensitive dork. That’s who I am.”
The Revival Salon – Website: http://www.therevivalsalon.com
Deanna, who Jen states with a sigh, “Of course, I can never do anything without her”, works with Jen as the very necessarily talented hairdresser at The Revival Salon. If you’ve perused Jens work online, you’ve seen what she means.
The Sanctuary – Centre for the Arts with owners Nadine and Jason Website: https://www.thesanctuaryarts.org
On Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/RidgewaySanctuary
“I just wanted to thank Nadine of the Sanctuary, for being accepting of us.”
With the help of ~
Jamie Mattiazzo the DJ, who also calls himself S1nc3R3, will provide the music for the rest of the night, after the show.
Check out Jamie here – https://m.soundcloud.com/jamie-mattiazzo
Jen shared that, at least once a week, Jamie does some kind of fundraiser or volunteers his time for different organizations and goes out of his way to help others every single day, while also working at Start Me Up Niagara.
The Ridgeway Vagina Warriors have “gone out of their way to help in all kinds of ways.”
On Facebook – https://m.facebook.com/Ridgeway-Vagina-Warriors-174181612624731
The Burlesque Dancers are:
Ivory – www.pureivory.ca
Belle Jumelles – https://www.facebook.com/APlatinumProduction/
Zyra Lee Vanity – https://www.facebook.com/ZyraLeeVanity/
Coco Framboise – https://www.facebook.com/CocoFramboiseBurlesque/
Dolly Berlin – https://www.facebook.com/DollyBerlinToronto/
“What needs will this event meet for people?”
Jen recalls for herself, “For me, honestly, after I left that show that I saw in Port Dover, it gave me confidence to know that I have jiggly body parts and so did that girl on stage, but she rocked it! People have gotten that message, youre supposed to hide, just because you have a belly, or have thighs, or back fat, or jiggly arms. Pfft….. rock it. Its confidence-building.
“It will bring everyone together in such a fun way, to have a good time and to celebrate body positivity. Everyone needs this.”
The tower of tampons
“We want everyone who buys a ticket to buy a box of tampons for Women’s Place of South Niagara. The shelter is in dire need. We are going to build a tower of tampons, to see how high we can get it. So tickets are $20 (instead of $25) so the 5 extra bucks can be spend on a box of tampons. Bring a box and enter a draw. I’m actually going to be going to the shelters website to find out what they need so if anyone wants to bring in anything extra as well, it will be welcome.”
Burlesque and Jen’s life purpose
Jen was so obviously passionate about this event. I wanted to know how it tapped into her life purpose.
“I want women of all sizes to know that they are beautiful. No matter how you are and who you are and what size you are, you can do this stuff and you can celebrate your own body. Lately I’ve been getting accused, You’re only about plus size. No I’m not. No I’m not. I have many women that come in here that are very thin that go through just as much as the plus size women does. I want to help all women.”
I wanted to give Jen an opportunity to speak a little about her baby, her studio in downtown Ridgeway. I plan on writing a second article shortly, one on Jennifer McCready herself. But for now, here’s a peek into the world of Lady Luck.
“I’m working on changing the name to Lady Luck Photography and Studio. I specialize in women’s photography. Its all about women’s photography — however they see themselves. Whether they see themselves as a pin up girl, or whether they see themselves covered in paint, or something dark and dingy in the forest. Taking the visions of themselves and making it come true.”
She got excited, “Its friggin’ therapy! When I walk in this door, if I wanna be…… I scream, I yell, I lose my poop when I shoot! I’m 44 and I turn into a 12 year old! It happened again today. I lost my poop.” We both laughed. “I’m known for saying while I’m shooting — and you can tell when I’m having a good shoot — ‘Holy crap on a cracker!’ The clients will go home and quote me and will laugh at me. But its therapy for me. To see other women happy from doing what I do.”
The body painting concept
I had seen a couple photos she had posted on her Facebook page recently, accompanied with a caption that caught my eye and asked her to talk about it.
“I photograph women spreading paint all over themselves. When they are spreading the paint all over their bodies, they are loving their bodies. They’re touching every nook and cranny and embracing themselves. It’s very grounding, I guess you can say, to embrace who they are and to familiarize themselves with their bodies that they usually try to avoid. Most women don’t like their belly and so they don’t touch it. She stopped and grabbed her belly in a very comfortable way. Well me, I’m always touching my belly. Its about getting comfortable with your body.”
The energy, we could both feel, was winding down for us at this point so I asked her if she had any final words.
“Yes. What I just want to say to people is, give it a chance. To the people reading this, you’re gonna be surprised at what you see. It will blow your minds!”
So, are you curious? Could you stand a little theatrical empowerment?
Tickets ($20) are available:
~ Online www.ticketscene.ca
~ From Jennifer at Lady Luck, Deanna at The Revival Salon and Brimstone Brewing Company (see contact info above)
~At the door, if tickets are still available.
Seats are limited.
Get Lucky An Evening of Burlesque
Friday, September 29, 2017
The Sanctuary Centre for the Arts, 209 Ridge Rd. N, Ridgeway
Doors open at 8:00pm
Show starts at 9:00pm
Dancing until 1:00am
See ya there!